A Chance to Die changed my life.
It is the story of missionary Amy Carmichael, a woman who truly sacrificed all for the sake of the Indian children she loved so much. She was known as “Amah,” the Tamil word for Mother. Having just been to India when I first read the book, I devoured it, longing to be back with the Indian children I loved and served so much. Reading the book brought me so much joy and fulfillment as I dreamt of a future serving those brown-eyed beauties. I soaked up everything I could about India, its culture, and its children.
Looking back, though, I see that God had much more for me to learn through this book. It isn’t just a book about India. It is a book about holy living. A book about sacrifice. A book about mothering. Unbeknownst to me, in reading this book, God was forming my foundation for living. For sacrifice. For mothering.
Amy Carmichael became “mother” to thousands of children through her 50+ years in India. She rescued children from temple prostitution and gave them a loving home and childhood. However, that wasn’t why she came to India. She first moved to Bangalore and studied the incredibly difficult Tamil language. She persevered to fulfill her dream. She longed to be an evangelist and to travel around and bring the good news to the people of India. During her time there, she learned that children were being sold to the temples for prostitution. Her heart couldn’t handle it and she rescued her first child. And then another. And then another. She was an evangelist who happened to care for a few children.For a while she tried to do both. She tried to be a mother while living out her real dreams and passions. However, it wasn’t long before she learned the truth of an old Indian proverb,
Children Tie the Mother’s Feet
Children tie us down. Children keep us from going where we want to go. Children often keep our feet from walking towards our dreams. We fight it, we will it not to be so.
But the sooner we realize it, we can accept it. And the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can embrace it. And the sooner we can embrace it, the sooner we can discover all the joy and wonder and fulfillment that is in each kiss, each cuddle, each teachable moment, each challenge, and each prayer offered.
But when we fight it—when we grumble with each simple request or nighttime accident or scraped knee or sibling dispute or spilled milk or dirty footprint—we lose all the joy. All of it becomes something to bear, something to endure, something that is keeping us from living the life we just know we were supposed to live.
And yet, aren’t we supposed to be like Christ? Isn’t that our goal as believers? Aren’t we supposed to long to become more and more like our Maker?
- Does He grumble when we come to Him?
- Does He answer our requests with a loud sigh, making sure we know He is doing it grudgingly?
- Does He make us wait simply because He doesn’t feel like helping us?
- Does He complain to Himself or others that we need Him yet again?
- Does He pretend He doesn’t hear us so He doesn’t have to help?
- Does He tune us out and just pretend to listen?
- Does He get frustrated that we keep coming to Him for the same things, over and over again?
- Does He get mad because we are asking Him to do something we can do ourselves?
- Does He turn us away when we just want to rest in His presence?
- Does He sit and dream about all the things He could be doing if only we weren’t here?
- Does He yell at us saying, “Haven’t I told you this a thousand times?”
- Does He tell us something just once and expect that for the rest of lives we won’t ever forget?
- Does He waste our time with mind-numbing activities so He can take a break from us?
Mothers, we have to embrace it. Our feet our tied. But, they are tied by the Master Himself.
Amy Carmichael said that she began “to see that she must allow her feet to be tied ‘for the sake of Him whose feet once were nailed’ “.
And so must we. I believe (and I am reminding myself daily) that in letting my feet be tied, I will find the freedom that I truly long for. The freedom to give, to love, to experience joy. Just like Christ, “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” we must be willing to endure for the sake of joy. We need to rest in our ties instead of always struggling to break free. Jesus didn’t wrestle to be free. I don’t want to either. I want my life and my years with these little ones to honor Him. I am His image bearer and I want to be a truthful representation of that image.
I want to let my feet be tied as willingly as He let his be nailed.